It’s no secret that our national park system is burdened by a huge backlog of projects that need funding, advocacy, and support. At the end of 2017, the deferred maintenance sat at $11.6 billion. And in the current political climate, this backlog is not going to get better anytime soon. So what can we do to help? In addition to volunteering our time, we can support companies like vintage-inspired California apparel brand Parks Project that directly funds our national parks.
Parks Project was started by ex-Toms employees Keith Eshelman and Sevag Kazanci. After volunteering in the Santa Monica Mountains, the duo were dismayed by both the lack of participation by young people as well as the amount of backlogged work that needed to be done. They decided to create a collection of fun, vintage-inspired park goods that would appeal to young people with a portion of the profits helping to fund the project backlog across the U.S.
Similar to the Toms philosophy, each product purchased from Parks Project contributes directly to one of over 30 different conservancies across the USA, providing vital funding for the ongoing care of our national parks. For example, the Joshua Tree inspired gear supports the Joshua Tree National Park Association. For every five T-shirts sold, the association is able to plant two additional trees in the park. Unfortunately the current Joshua tree population is struggling to survive thanks to climate change and repeated drought.
The park goods include everything from beanies and hats to T-shirts, tanks, and sweatshirts. You’ll even find accessories like candles, posters, and one of my favorites — an enamel camping mug.
Prices are reasonable in the $20-$70 range so they would make great gifts. I am hoping the national park T-shirts become the next vintage band T-shirt and all the cool kids will be wearing one.